There are many and varied ways to create much needed new businesses and jobs. Some outstanding initiatives to promote entrepreneurship recently competed in national competitions for a chance to represent their country in the 2013 European Enterprise Promotion Awards. Out of several hundred candidates, nineteen projects were shortlisted in six categories, including the new category: “Supporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency”. The Awards scheme received entries from 26 EU countries – including new EU Member State Croatia – as well as Turkey and Serbia. Winners for each of the six categories will be announced by European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani at the SME Assembly on 25 November 2013 in Vilnius, Lithuania. One project will also receive the prestigious Grand Jury Prize.
A high-level jury representing business, government and academia reviewed the 53 national winner entries to establish this year’s shortlist. Shortlisted projects came from Belgium (2 projects), Cyprus, Denmark (2 projects), Finland, France, Ireland (2 projects), Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Serbia (2 projects), Slovakia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, and are listed below according to the category in which they competed.
Category 1: Promoting Entrepreneurial Spirit
Boost Your Talent (BYT) (Belgium) is a project to promote entrepreneurial spirit, focusing on schools and other youth organisations in central Brussels. Through a range of programmes and original activities, it encourages students of all levels to discover entrepreneurship, the business environment, their own entrepreneurial skills and qualities, and take an active role in their own project to achieve social and professional success. BYT directly trained 8,316 students between late 2008 and April 2013.
The Student Enterprise Awards Programme (Ireland) provides students with an opportunity to gain business and entrepreneurial skills in a practical real-life scenario where they establish and run their own mini-enterprises for six months or more. The City & County Enterprise Boards, a Government backed network of support agencies for the small firms sector, established a nationwide competition run annually at different levels in secondary schools. Numbers participating have grown year-on-year and now exceed 17 000.
An initiative undertaken by the Municipality of Wrocław Economic Development Office (Poland) involved the production and performance of a play entitled “The fairy-tale about Janek, the entrepreneur and his foolish brothers.” As a result, primary school students learned to identify character traits associated with entrepreneurship, understood the meaning of investment and the consequences of falling into excessive debt. In addition to the live audience, 60 000 pupils from 720 schools around the country viewed the performance online.
The MyCity learning entity is a miniature city in Finland, built from mobile wall elements, which includes at least 15 different local and regional enterprises and public services in Finland. At any one time approximately 70 pupils work within the city and receive wages. They also act as consumers and citizens. MyCity, sponsored by the Finish Ministry of Education and Culture, operates in eight different municipalities. 24 000 sixth graders and 1 000 teachers have visited the sites.
Women-owned businesses are still a minority in Serbia, representing only 26% of all SMEs. Many women therefore turn to the Association of Business Women in Serbia (ABW), as it has recognised the need to build local organisations to promote women entrepreneurs, as well as to encourage and support the formalisation and official registration of new associations of businesswomen. The initiative connects female entrepreneurs throughout Serbia, strengthening local associations and establishing and building the capacity of newly formed associations. In the past year, three new Associations of Business Women have been created in Novi Pazar, Subotica and Zajecar.
The Premier League Charitable Fund (United Kingdom) programme was set up to help teach 11-19 year olds the basic principles of business and self-employment. 135 000 pupils took part in its first two years, with more than 1 500 securing university entry-level qualifications as a result. Based around a 10-week course, the programme helps youth people understand business principles through a range of interactive learning opportunities, both in the classroom and at football stadia. PLEAs programmes have been established at 20 clubs, which have engaged with over 80,000 young people.
Category 2: Investing in Skills
Vᴂkstfabrikkerne (The Growth Factories, Denmark) is a business incubation programme launched in January 2010. The project consists of ten business incubators, geographically spread throughout the region of Zealand. Incubatees enter into a 1.5 to 3 year individually tailored ‘growth programme’ consisting of mentoring, networking activities and an educational course, in cooperation with a regional university. As a result, 54 additional jobs in the region have already been created and other 300 are expected within the next three years.
Senior Enterprise (Ireland) is specifically designed to encourage a greater involvement with enterprise by those aged 50 and over, and to raise awareness of their potential to start a business, acquire or invest in a business started by someone else, or to become a volunteer mentor. As a result almost 1 000 individuals receiving some support from Senior Enterprise in Ireland, the UK and France, have set up new businesses.
The purpose of Junior Achievement (JA) Serbia is to educate and inspire young people to value free enterprise and understand business and economics. JA Serbia enables the private sector to take an active role in preparing and inspiring the youth of Serbia to become contributing members of society and to educate young people in the fields of entrepreneurship, financial literacy and business. Since 2005, JA Serbia has served more than 30 000 students who were guided by 500 JAS-trained teachers in over 200 schools across Serbia. During the 2011/12 school year, 8 021 students participated in JA Serbia programmes, supported by 485 teachers in 156 secondary and 52 primary schools across 72 municipalities.
Category 3: Improving the Business Environment
The Belgium Starters Agreement helps both aspiring and existing entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs enter into a starter’s agreement with the City of Ghent to draft a business plan, appeal for professional advice and specialist guidance, follow training and development courses and to continue an independent business activity for at least three years. Entrepreneurs can receive support of a maximum of €5 000 for education, professional guidance and investment. One of the most important objectives of the agreement is to increase the success rate of starting companies during their first years and to prevent failures. To date, a total of 171 starter’s agreements have received a positive recommendation by the evaluation committee, with 166 of these approved.
Incredibol!, Bologna’s Creative Innovation project, supports creative professions in Emilia-Romagna through cash contributions, workspaces and a network of public and private partners that provide services to its award winners. Incredibol! interacts with and enhances the local cultural and creative enterprises (ICC) sector and has gathered an impressive 243 design ideas from across the region. In total its 32 winning projects were able to take advantage of cash awards totalling €20 000, more than 500 hours of training and the professional support of 15 consultants.
Think Small First was developed by the Latvian Chamber Of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) to get Latvia out of the economic crisis. The initiative helped micro-enterprises by promoting the creation of a special tax rate and simplified tax accounting system, introducing a micro-credit programme; and consolidating and making available information about launching a business. Through support from the Ministry of Economy, the Latvian Parliament supported the Micro-enterprise Tax Law. As a result of this initiative, a total of 28 000 enterprises have utilised the simplified tax-account system.
Investment and Business Guarantees (INVEGA), founded by the Lithuanian government, provides guarantees to credit institutions for loans taken by representatives of SMEs for business start-up or expansion. In addition, INVEGA compensates SMEs with 50% of interest paid, and also administers several financial engineering measures. Two venture capital measures are also currently being implemented from the INVEGA Fund. These measures facilitate SMEs to obtain much-needed funding. Since 2001, INVEGA has provided 3 978 guarantees to credit institutions for SME business loans.
Category 4: Supporting Business Internationalisation
The regional initiative, International Relays, employs country experts to develop companies in Champagne-Ardenne for exportation (France). This initiative aims to technically and financially support companies at a local level, enabling them to implement a long-term commercial development strategy. Seven out of ten SMEs that work with International Relays have rapidly secured business and thus increased their competitiveness. International Relays have allowed approximately 100 companies from the Champagne-Ardenne region to implement an effective exportation activity.
The Portuguese footwear industry exports more than 95% of its production to international markets.
The APICCAPS, a national business association, with the support of the Compete Programme, has taken various measures to promote Portuguese footwear. Its current campaign helped to promote around 120 SMEs at professional events globally and helped develop a campaign symbol for Portuguese shoes with the slogan Portuguese Shoes: Designed by the Future. The image seeks to establish Portuguese shoes as sophisticated and innovative. As a result of this strategy, footwear exports have grown more than 20% in the past two years.
Category 5: Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency
Green Dot (Cyprus) Public Co Ltd is an initiative formed by the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry to cater for the management of packaging under the Producer Responsibility principles. Green Dot Cyprus began household recycling collection in Cyprus in 2007 and it has grown to cover 85% of the population within five years. Cypriots have responded positively to the service and the overall recycling rate has doubled in the period of 2006 – 2012. The organisation created more than 200 new green jobs and has allowed the local recycling companies to grow and enhance their long term sustainability.
Key aims of the Town of Gürsu (Turkey): project are to increase the use of green energy to prevent environmental pollution caused by the use of fossil fuels, to save energy used for municipal services and to help the socio-economic development of the town. Since the initiative began, four innovative applications have been configured, tested and applied. A photovoltaic solar energy plant was developed and Gürsu is now well-known for using clean solar energy in all of its service areas. Since the project began, Gürsu has obtained 40% of its electricity needs from the sun in the five months of winter and 100% in the seven summer months.
Category 6: Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship in Denmark collects and conveys knowledge, establishes networks and collaboration across business and employment organisations and offers competency development activities. The aim of the project is to improve the creation, survival and growth of companies owned by people of different ethnic origins. The project facilitated a partnership between six municipalities, the Danish regions, the Ministry of Employment and the Ministry of Business and Growth Denmark and consists of six local units and a national information centre.